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Impossible Creatures, a Hidden Gem

Some of you might be familiar with Jay Wilson, he was the game developer for last years Diablo 3 and has contributed to several Blizzard games.He was also the game developer for Relic Entertainments: Impossible Creatures, released in 2002 under the banner of Microsoft. Since Microsoft isn’t a company known for it’s video game releases, the game never stood a change of getting to the spotlight amongst the other giants at the given time. Impossible Creatures was more of a bottom shelf winner. The kind you buy with your last couple of bucks after you’ve read the back discription and hope to get a couple hours of singleplayer out of it before you hop onto the next one. Well you might just get what you hoped for..

The year 2002 spawned titles such as Medal of Honor, Battlefield, Elder Scrolls, Grand Theft Auto 3 and online gaming was coming up. Better internet connections became available and dedicated servers became a fact. While the majority of  the gamers were reliving the Second Worldwar or creating his own gangsters paradise, some were geneticly manipulating zoo animals into a brainwashed army.

1937, Dr Chanikov reports the creation of Sigma Technology, this allows genetic manipulation to melt two creatures together into a single organism. The reports got ignored by other scientist and communities. Chanikov remained in exile untill one day his son, who goes by the name of Rex Chance receives a letter from his father.  Telling him about the existance of the technology. Later Rex finds out his father died at the hands of Upton Julius. Willing to seek revenge, Rex finds himself a partner in Lucy Willing. With her help Rex quickly learns about the Sigma Technology and ways to defeat Upton Julius. When confronting Julius with the murder of his father, he learns that he is infact a product of the Sigma.

That’s it as far as the storyline is concerned. When you’re hanging out in the menu screen, the first thing you’ll notice is the catchy jungle soundtrack. The main concept is to create an animal army by combining bodyparts from a database containing fifty animals. You then proceed with a checklist of which parts you want, each having it’s own statistics and appearance. When combining a tiger with a zebra, this is something you might come up with..

zebra/tiger

Every animal is categorized in a tier in terms of overal strength, survivability or acces to a special type of ability. Ranging from tier 1 to 5, a higher tier can be reached by upgrading your lab ingame. When combining a tier 2 animal with a tier 4. It is also very likely the outcome of your creature will be tier 3, depending on which bodyparts you use. In the singleplayer campaign you run around being Rex and you can find wild critters on the map. Unlock them by firing a poison darts from your rifle and putting them in the ‘Creature Combiner’. The multiplayer option has every animal pre-unlocked in order to make it balanced.

Online gameplay variated between one versus one, two versus two or three versus three. Like any Real Time Strategy game, countering your opponents army and destroying his base will win you the game. Variations were endless and people copied eachother. Small tournaments were held, a world rating list made and time spent. After 2 years, the game reached a point where the developers had to bring something new onto the table. They came with an answer. In 2004 the mod Insect Invasion was released, adding 15 new creatures, new abilities and maps to face off.

The game had a nice concept. Something different from your regular RTS. No tanks, instead you have a fish shooting an artillery waterball from his mouth splashing onto the numbers of the enemy. No sword ripping through the flesh of your enemies, just the claws of an oversized praying mantis. Today the game is being played with 3rd party programs because the server plugs have been pulled out a couple of years ago after they didn’t get the sale numbers they’d hope for. Well atleast I get what I hoped for, that random game I enjoyed spending my last couple of bucks on.

It had potential to be big if only it was more noticed by the public at large. Enjoyable none the less and memories are cherished in my childhood.

 

Originality 9.5

Storyline 8.5

Popularity 5.5

Balance 7.5

Potential 8.5

Total score:

7.9

Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/kobus.kunneman Kobus Kunneman

    Never heard of this game before. I was wondering, is it any use in trying it out now? Or is this more of a you-should’ve-been-there kind of game?

    • neshoba

      I bet you can still find a collectable somewhere online, maybe something like ebay. But it should always be downloadable somewhere since it came from the time where cd keys didn’t matter as much. campaign can still be enjoyed, for online play you’d have to do some internet research for the 3rd party program. but i know there is still a small sized community

  • http://www.facebook.com/patrick.verhagen.5 Patrick Verhagen

    Great memories indeed! And for that reason alone a great article for me :)
    @ kobus, if you look up this game on google you will find a torrent link with all the mods/patches etc. I think you might still be entertained with the single player campaign of the game. even creating your own army in this game is a fun way alone to spend some time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kobus.kunneman Kobus Kunneman

    Unrelated, @ Neshoba: I just saw your avatar. MtG geek here as well :)

    • neshoba

      props! Officially it’s written Nishoba, but that was always used when I try to register it somewhere :(

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